Introducing Dr Lin Hongxuan, SEAC Visiting Fellow and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.
1.What will you be working on during your time as SEAC Visiting Fellow?
2.What led you to your field of study/what inspired your interest in these topics?I was trained as a historian of Southeast Asia and more specifically as a historian of Indonesian Islam. I am drawn to the corpus of ideas associated with “progressive Islam” (a contested label) because of my country of origin. Singapore is an ethnically and religiously plural society, but despite its ideological commitment to “racial harmony,” serious fault lines are visible to those who care to look carefully. An awareness of these fissures and their latent danger helped spur my interest in how neighbouring societies have navigated similar fault lines. I hope that my research will highlight historical modalities of Islamic piety which can function as a robust alternative to the conservative and reductive modalities of piety that are regionally dominant today, beneficial to Singapore but also Indonesia and Malaysia.3. How do you like to relax and unwind?I have a mixture of healthy and unhealthy habits. I find running and weightlifting therapeutic, but I am also partial to whisky – especially Islay single malts. Other activities I find relaxing include sleeping in, playing guitar, and reading fiction.
During my time at SEAC, I will be working on two projects. The first traces the historical production and circulation of progressive Islamic ideas across the Malay Archipelago. These ideas include concepts such as social justice, environmental conservation, Islamic feminism, and protecting the rights of religious minorities. The second is a collaborative project with Teren Sevea of Harvard divinity school, as well as many other participants, tentatively titled “Islamic Third Worldism.” It examines how the Third World moment (~1950s – 1970s) manifested in Islamicate societies, and whether it found particular resonance there.